After this week's solid 31-22 win at Michigan State, the Penn State Nittany Lions have claimed the Big Ten title and the automatic BCS bid, which, thanks to the Miami loss this weekend, parks them squarely at #3, on the doorstep to, dare I write it, a national championship game. Damn, if Fresno State had a little more, they'd be in it right now.
Joey Johnson has a good article on the Lions and their amazing turnaround that has them on the verge of a national championship game:
- USC has a 33-game winning streak, but it must defeat cross-town rival UCLA on Dec. 3. There’s another 50-42 game waiting to happen. So you must at least acknowledge the possibility of a USC defeat, even though the Trojans have beaten the Bruins six straight times.
Texas has proven its talent and depth — over and over again. A loss at Texas A&M on Friday afternoon? Don’t see it. A loss to, say, Colorado, at the Big 12 championship game on Dec. 3? Don’t see that either. But you never really know.
Just in case, the Nittany Lions await. More than a consolation prize, they would be worthy of the Rose Bowl, although the argument would be tremendous in the one-loss community.
LSU, Virginia Tech, Oregon, UCLA, West Virginia and even TCU might be in the conversation. And let’s not forget that a trio of two-loss teams — Auburn, Ohio State and Notre Dame — might be playing better than anybody right now.
But on merit, not sentiment, Paterno and Penn State have earned their spot at the front of the line.
Penn State began the season unranked and unloved, picked for somewhere near the middle of the Big Ten standings. Paterno, who had four losing teams in the past five seasons, had been ransacked by critics who insisted he should retire. The only thing he could do by sticking around, they said, was harm his reputation.
Instead, Paterno has enhanced it.